Addicted to Positivity

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Blessed are those who mourn.

I’m a charismatic. Joyful songs, lifting hands, shouts of triumph along with some dancing peppered in when I have the strength are all part of my preferred hour (or two) of congregational worship. We “Spirit-filled” folk love services that we can experience palpably, while at the same time we tend to fail to confront and mourn the more dismal realities in the world.

In an effort to keep everything at a positive pitch, those whom Thomas Merton called “preachers of sunshine and uplift” deprive the church of a fully orbed diet of other nourishing spiritual practices, such as mourning.

Lament doesn’t fit the triumphalistic narrative so prominent in the American evangelicalism, my own charismatic tribe in particular.

This lack of exposure to it is one reason many Christians (especially those of the white middle-to-upper-class variety) are inexperienced in the biblical practice of lament. They spend the morning reading the Sunday news about terrorist beheadings, trafficked children, and undernourished humans in the world and then go to church to sing exclusively cheerful choruses and high-fiving one another about how great heaven will be!

Lament and hope are not mutually exclusive. In fact, hope is rooted in the healthy soil of lament,  grows upward, and bears fruit as the light of the Son shines on it.


This is an excerpt from  a book I hope to publish in the near future on the Sermon on the Mount called: What In The World? Some Moral, Social, and Politically Disruptive Implications of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount.

As such, I’d appreciate your feedback on this post and others to come in order to make the final copy publish-worthy.

2 Replies to “Addicted to Positivity”

  1. I really appreciate your writing, as I have always appreciated your words. Is “a charismatic” really a proper word (used as a noun, rather than as an adjective)? I just broke away for a second and discovered it is indeed – I love learning new things!

  2. “Charismatic” in this context usually refers to those who believe in and experience the in-filling of the Holy Spirit and the gifts of the Spirit as listed in 1 Corinthians 12. It’s sort of, but not exactly parallel to the term “Pentecostal.” I could be more specific, but you get the point. Nice hearing from you, Barbara! I hope all is well with you!

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